I was born in a lower-middle-class family with limited means. The early demise of my father didn’t help matters either. Slowly but steadily, my mother stabilised the family and with the help of the society around me, I went on to run a successful real estate company. It is quite shocking at times when people introduce me as a philanthropist and a humanitarian. Until a few years ago, I was fending for myself and here I am now contributing to the wellbeing of others. One thing that has kept me going in this endeavour is the fact that I have never really thought of my contribution as a contribution.
For years, I struggled in poverty and tried many things to come up in life. I can clearly remember the days when I used to sell black tickets for movies at some theatres in Bangalore. Years ago, I was caught by a Theatre Manager for selling black tickets near his establishment. The episode turned into a scuffle and in a fit of rage, I had damaged a few seats in the theatre. Even though the damage was significant, the Manager didn’t call the police and instead made me stand in his office the whole day. Today, when I look back at the chain of events, I know that if he had put me behind bars, things would’ve been a lot different for me. Instead of spending my days behind 2-inch-thick bars, that day I spent them behind the grilled door in that office. But, even during those times when life could’ve taken me on any dark path, the support of such people around me kept me safe from the dark side. The people that I am talking about were from my family and some were total strangers. In ways big and small, they intentionally or unintentionally nudged me to a clean life that kept me out of trouble.
So, when I look back at the life that I have lived, it would not be an exaggeration if I said that whatever I have today was the result of a lump sum loan that I took from society. I used that capital to build my life, my business, and my beloved family. So, now I think it is time to pay back the loan in full. It is time to pay my social EMIs. My mother has always played a key role in shaping my outlook towards the world, and the values that she instilled in me have guided me all along. I am repaying this loan by investing in microfinance that helps rural women earn a decent livelihood. The scheme will eventually be run in the North East where micro-loans at low-interest rates can help communities prosper and become stable.
At no point in my life could I afford the best education. I take pride in the fact that I studied in government schools and got scholarships at various points in my life. This seed capital has given me a better understanding of the business world and it continues to help me run my business. The Happy Schools Project that I am doing now, is in many ways a partial pre-payment to ensure that thousands of children who come from underserved areas and communities get a shot at a better life and educational environment.
As Indians, it is up to each one of us to pay our social EMIs on time and help nourish the society around us. Surely, there are various government schemes and plans that offer benefits to large chunks of our impoverished society. But, that’s just the start. When we as Indian citizens rise up and supplement the efforts of the government is when we will see the true change that will catapult India towards a brighter future.